Chronic Pain Has a New Miracle Plant

Chronic Pain Relief

Chronic pain sufferers the world over may be in for some new hope of a new miracle plant rooted in Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine has always been a bit of a mystery with western medicine, until Chinese researchers started isolating and studying ancient cures as part of the herbalome project. The project was started in 2008 and consists of researchers cataloging all the active ingredients contained in ancient and traditional Chinese medicines. Those researchers have recently found a natural compound able to alleviate three different pain types in lab mice.

The Chinese study was published recently in the journal Current Biology. The paper included the discovery that mice do not build up any resistance to the compound, which is naturally occurring. This finding suggests that the compound is a prime candidate for a new pain relief medication that can be used for long term chronic pain management in humans.

The compound is a chemical that is found in the Corydalis plant’s underground tubers. This pain relief chemical is known as dehydrocorybulbine or DHCB.

The Corydalis plant is a member of the same family as the poppy plant. It’s a native plant that grows mainly around the central eastern part of China and it’s been used in Chinese medicine for many centuries. It was prescribed by Chinese medical doctors to treat back pain and headaches.

The tubers of the Corydalis plant are first dug out of the soil and ground into a pulp. The pulp is then boiled in vinegar to turn the compound into a medication that could be used as a chronic pain reliever.

UC Irvine pharmacologist, Olivier Civelli, is one of the study’s authors and he says that this medicine goes back into history thousands of years and the reason it is still used is because it works. What Civelli really wants to know is what actually makes it work as there are many compounds that exist in the plant.

To conduct this study of the new miracle plant Civelli worked with the research leader of the herbalome project, Xinmiao Liang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Dalian, northeast China. Liang and the research group extracted more than 80 chemicals from the Corydalis plant and sent them to Civelli’s Irvine lab for testing. All the samples were then tested to see which chemicals had properties that would relieve chronic pain.

The DHCB was found to be at least one of the chemicals that were effective as a pain reliever in lab mice. Further study showed that the chemical used the D2 dopamine receptors and not the morphine receptors.

Civelli said that the dopamine receptors are mostly associated with the brain’s pleasure center, so it was surprising to find them used in the DHCB tests. This was discovered by mice that had the D2 dopamine receptors removed when they did not experience any pain relief from the chemical.

The Civelli lab was able to synthesize the DHCB so they had enough chemical to run numerous tests. What the team found was that the DHCB worked on three types of pain. They found that DHCB worked on acute pain that one would experience by breaking their leg or receiving a skin burn. They also found the compound worked on inflammatory pain like arthritis and it worked on chronic pain that is often associated with nerve damage.

Civelli continues to study the new miracle plant’s compounds looking for other chemicals that could work in conjunction with the DHCB in relieving chronic pain. It’s also possible that some of the other compounds found in the Corydalis plant may benefit some other particular disease or disorder.

By Brent Matsalla

Voice of America
Red Orbit
LA Times

10 Responses to "Chronic Pain Has a New Miracle Plant"

  1. Tania   January 5, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I am interested in the topical pain gel – what kind of gel is it and what is the ingredients. It is great that research is being done on the Chinese herbs as long as what we use has been tested properly so that we are using the genuine herbs. I think there is no standards for the herbs so it is hard to know what they are mixed with

    • Betty   January 7, 2014 at 6:44 am

      The ingredients in their gels are customized per each individual patients needs and pain levels in order to provide the most effective pain gels, and they can be altered if the pain worsens or decreases with each refill.

  2. Shelley Kelley (@nanainbfe)   January 5, 2014 at 12:15 am

    @ Betty who says to just try topical pain relief:As one who has tried over the counter and script topical as well as most of the tablet forms of pain meds, let me tell you it is not that simple. I have not been run over by a car, but have severe pain from degenerative disc disease plus about a dozen other problems and two severe auto accidents. A topical pain med will only work as LIGHT pain relief for many. If it works for you on all of your pain – be grateful. It does not work for everyone as there are many levels of pain. Also, the cost of topical pain meds is too exorbitant for many pain sufferers especially when dealing with wide-spread severe pain.

    • Betty   January 7, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Shelley, please see my comment to Marney down below. I hope you find relief!

  3. Mona   January 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    This is to add to my last comment about the Chinese herbs. If you take the chemical out of an herb like they did with amoxicillin (which comes from the mold plant) it then becomes a medication with side effects because you now lost the other chemicals in that plant that counteracts any side effect of that herb. The beauty of using Chinese herbs is that there are no side effects because we use the whole herb and we use a balanced formula to counteract side effects. JUST TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW, ALL THE CHINESE FORMULAS USED TODAY BY ACUPUNCTURISTS LIKE MYSELF ARE MORE THAN 2000 YEARS OLD. THAT HAS TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT CHINESE MEDICINE. All my patients who have had severe pain almost all their lives are doing beautifully and are pain free AND drug free.

    • Milena   June 17, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Herbs have side effects as well, they really should be taken with care, but you already mentioned that in another comment.

  4. Mona   January 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This herb is called Yan Hu Suo in Chinese. I WISH LAY PEOPLE WOULD STOP TRYING TO USE CHINESE HERBS ON THEIR OWN!!! This herb is used by acupuncturists like my self to treat menstrual pain. But it is used in very small doses and in a balanced formula to counteract the toxic side effects of this herb. If people read your article
    And buy the herb and if they die from it, the FDA will then pull it from the market so that licensed professionals like acupuncturists will no longer have access to it. The FDA is so busy limiting our practice when they should be stopping unlicensed people from using Chinese herbs. BY THE WAY, THIS HERB IS NOT NEW, CHINESE HERBALISTS HAVE BEEN USING IT OVER 2000 years!

  5. Marney Mathison   January 4, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Because there are people who have the type of pain that’s so severe you want to kill yourself. The current narcotics available that are strong enough to help alleviate that pain
    Creates dependence issues and alot of side effects. So if they find something better that’s exciting for us chronic pain sufferers. My pain is from a drunk driver who ran me over. My left side of my body was broken and I almost died in the surgery. 36 years later my body isn’t working and have severe pain from all the surgeries and disorders I now

    • Betty   January 7, 2014 at 6:50 am

      I apologize for your accident.

      These gels work best with people suffering from gout, fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuropathy, nerve damage and other pain of the sort. They are not over the counter gels though…

      As I mentioned to Tania, the ingredients in their gels are customized per each individual patients needs and pain levels in order to provide the most effective pain gels, and they can be altered if the pain worsens or decreases with each refill. The ingredients in their gels are customized per each individual patients needs and pain levels in order to provide the most effective pain gels, and they can be altered if the pain worsens or decreases with each refill.

      The best part is that you are not putting anything directly INTO your body orally though so the side effects and downtime have been eliminated up front.

      I hope you find relief in your journey!

  6. Betty   January 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Instead of trying new methods, why don’t you try something that works? It’s called topical pain relief.

    It provides the same, usually greater, relief that specific pills do, however, there are no pills or side effects. I get my topical pain gels through my pharmacy in the midwest, A&R Pharmacy in Liberty, MO, and simply apply the gel whenever I’m in pain. I’ve been using it for six months and had more than significant results since going this route and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with pain and/or pills. I hope this helps!


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